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Why standards should matter to you and me
Standards ensure we’re healthy, and that everyday items are safe to use and in good working order. The benefits they bring to you and me far outweigh their cost.
Every year we celebrate World Standards Day. October 14 pays tribute to the people who ensure the highest levels of quality and safety across many industries. This year’s theme is “Protecting the planet through standards”, focusing on the role that standards play in keeping us and the environment safe.
In many countries, meeting and maintaining standards is a legal requirement across lots of industries, making sure that businesses and communities prosper. Standards come at a cost, however. Yet the extra amount we pay for certified items is worth it — here’s why.
Household items that are made with certified materials help keep us healthy, prevent illnesses and make our lives easier — whether at work, home or elsewhere. They also prevent harmful chemicals from getting into drinking water and food supplies. Exposure to poisonous elements like lead, for example, causes severe health problems.
Certified gadgets enhance people’s quality of life and help with their work. At home, we rely on refrigerators, washing machines and cooking facilities for fresh produce, clean clothes and cooked food. At work, our desktops, printers and smartphones let us manage teams, tasks and projects with ease. Given how entrenched these devices are in our daily lives, it’s important that they’re safe to use.
Certified machines can also improve human health. Medical devices are used to test the state of our health and in treatments, and gym equipment and wearables help us stay fit. In Australia, for example, people spend more than A$3 billion a year in gyms, where equipment must meet strict health and safety standards — all the better to keep Australians in good shape.
Stop and think
Most of us don’t realise how important standards are in our lives. Stop for a moment and think — what if there were no standards, and how might this affect me? Without standards, we wouldn’t know that the food we buy in supermarkets is safe, and that it’s been made or farmed by people who are treated well. We also wouldn’t know that the water we drink is free from diseases, or that the hugely satisfying bubble teas we all love wouldn’t cause us tummy ache.
Worse still, we could encounter toxic chemicals, causing us all sorts of problems with our hearts, liver, kidneys and more. All of a sudden, our lives would be at risk.
That’s why many governments have put in place rules that prevent us from coming into contact with harmful elements. Luckily in Asia and Australasia these rules are getting stricter.
Increasingly, laws ensure that harmful elements are either used in very small amounts or are outright banned. In countries with such laws, manufacturers must have a certificate issued by local authorities or an international standards board stating their products comply with these rules. In markets that are less strict, companies themselves must make sure their products are safe to use — something that remains inconsistent, sadly.
Humans aren’t the only ones to benefit from standards; the environment does too. With most of our waste ending up in landfills, for example, fewer harmful elements in manufactured items means less pollution in our waterways, on land and in the air we breathe.
In addition, machinery such as wind turbines and solar panels, which contain certified elements, allow us to generate clean energy and help tackle climate change. Last year, the New Zealand Government pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, a significant environmental milestone that will be achieved mostly through wind and solar power.
In terms of energy efficiency, certified elements streamline the energy usage in buildings through sensors, wireless networks, and cloud computing. Certified elements also play a part in pesticides that help produce more food, and prevent diseases like malaria.
Good for business
Industries and economies also profit from standards. When entire industries adhere to these, product quality is widespread, competition is fair, and markets grow. Nations build reputations as centres of excellence, and trust in local companies extend beyond borders. As these businesses expand, they employ more people, and economies prosper.
The certification process lets companies provide feedback to authorities. Industry opportunities and challenges can be voiced and debated, and the feedback used to improve standards even further. Standards also allow governments to keep track of dangerous elements circulating within the economy, and authorities can monitor the associated risks.
Manufacturers benefit from using safe components as well. In countries where standards are not monitored, using certified components helps companies stand out from the crowd, and demonstrate their value. This competitive edge can even be used to break into new markets. Furthermore, attention to health and safety matters leads to greater staff and customer loyalty, and can win the respect and trust of the community.
Conversely, business that do not comply with standards could be fined, risk being closed down and typically experience reputational damage.
Playing our part
Manufacturers that use certified components are not only positively contributing to the health of society, they are also playing their part in preserving the environment. In countries like Singapore, for example, high standards ensure that sectors embrace best practices and drive business growth, locally and overseas. In markets where rules are less strict, companies that are certified can truly shine — tesa® is such a company.
Many of the company’s products are compliant with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, or RoHS, and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, known as REACH. Rolled out a decade or so ago, both limit the amount of harmful elements in manufactured items. They have since been adopted by numerous countries around the world including China, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Take mercury for example. Before these rules were introduced it featured heavily in washing machines, light switches and clothes dryers. Yet mercury is among the most toxic chemicals in the world, and can kill us if it enters our body through contaminated food or air.
At tesa®, our adhesive solutions for a wide variety of industries are certified to meet the highest of global standards. Our resealable food packaging and carton sealing solutions ensure that food can be stored and shipped safely. Our adhesives for the building industry play their part in keeping cladding and glazing free from harmful chemicals, as does our tape found in refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers. Standards ensure that all tesa® products used in these items are harmless to people and the environment. Our Product Development departments robustly assess all materials and substances featured in our products, and our designated product safety officers ensure that products are designed in such a way that no one is harmed in their production or use. Once products are already on the market, our business units continue to monitor their performance.